by Abdul Haleem and Jawid Omid
KABUL, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- People from the surrounding villages have gathered and watched the public lashing of an alleged adulterer, Sabira, in an isolated village of Ghajori district, Ghazni province, 125 km south of Afghan capital Kabul.
"Extra-judicial punishment took place in Hotqul village on 15th Sinbillah (Sept. 5) in an area where scores of villagers gathered to watch," said Mohammad Hassan, recalling the horrible scene.
"Surely it was the reminder of Taliban-style punishment given to alleged adulterers during the Taliban reign in the country," said the 55-year-old eye-witness who sports a beard.
Sabira, 15, was punished with 100 lashes by local clerics and influential chieftains after she was found to have an illicit relationship with a boy.
But while the clerics imposed a sever punishment on Sabira, her alleged lover was fined with only around 1,600 U.S. dollars.
The public lashing of Sabira has triggered outrage among human right activists and parliamentarians in the embattled country.
"Convicting and punishing Sabira by mock courts is only one of thousands of such cases happening in Afghanistan's rural areas," Legislator Abdul Hafiz Mansoor told the Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of Afghan Parliament. He called on the Afghan government to immediately act on the report.
In late September, hundreds of people demonstrated in the streets of Kabul condemning the lashing of Sabira and calling on the government to bring to justice those behind the abuse. The demonstrators represented a cross-section of the Afghan public.
"Those behind the crime of lashing my sister and assaulting her are now threatening us. Our utmost desire is to see to it that the culprits are severely punished," Sabira's sister, Shafiqa Itesami, who is a medical student here, told Xinhua.
A female lawmaker, Shah Gul Rezai, said: "Lashing a girl in public is against the law of the land. It is a serious case and we want it to be investigated immediately for the government to punish all those responsible for this atrocious crime."
This was not the first time that an alleged adulterer has been publicly punished by locals in the post-Taliban Afghanistan 11 years after the collapse of the Taliban regime.
The Taliban, who were driven out of power by U.S. forces in late 2001, had confined women to their houses and had forbidden them even to go to school.
The former Taliban regime had amputated the limbs of alleged thieves and robbers, executed murderers and stoned to death or lashed alleged adulterers in public, often at the National Sport Stadium in Kabul on Fridays, the Muslim day-off.
Aside from Sabira, there have been similar lashing incidents done by Taliban militants or extremist chieftains in other parts of Afghanistan which are under their control.
In July, in the Shinwari district of Parwan province, some 90 km north of the national capital, Taliban militants publicly shot to death a 22-year-old woman named Najiba, also for adultery.
Extra-judicial punishment and killing women have also been reported in Kunduz, Herat and Badghis provinces over the past couple of years.